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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Christian fundamentalists favor an aggressively interventionist US foreign policy

October 2006. Boston Globe series on religious right's influence on Bush foreign policy

Topics on this page: Recent news and developments | Boston Globe series on religious right's influence on Bush foreign policy | Blackwater: fundamentalist-led mercenary army | Paul Bonicelli named to lead USAID | Religious right shares its homophobia in Poland | Missionaries | Exploiting access to Muslim societies | Additional foreign policy topics

Have Baptists lost their prophetic voice?

By Robert Marus, Associated Baptist Press, Baptist Standard, August 3, 2007

Beginning with the ancient Christians martyred by the Roman Empire and running through Thomas Becket and to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and beyond, church leaders often have spoken truth courageously to the secular powers-that-be - regardless of the consequences.

But, in the months leading up to the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, did the United States' powerful conservative evangelical community step away from its responsibility to convey hard truths to the government? The answer, it seems, varies depending on one's views on the war-both past and present. Continue.

War and peace: Did evangelicals' support for Iraq invasion damage credibility?

By Robert Marus, Associated Baptist Press, August 6, 2007

WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Beginning with ancient Christians martyred by the Roman Empire and running through Thomas Becket, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and beyond, church leaders often have spoken truth to the secular powers -- regardless of the consequences.

But in the months leading up to the now-unpopular Iraq war, did the United States' powerful conservative evangelical community step away from its responsibility to speak hard truths to the government?

"I think [conservative evangelicals] abdicated or relinquished their prophetic role from the beginning" of President Bush's administration, said Adam Taylor, senior political director for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a progressive evangelical group that opposed the war from the start. Continue.

Recent news and developments

Talk to Iran
The Christian message is reaching where diplomacy can't.

Editorial, Christianity Today, June 27, 2008

The editorial says that where diplomacy is not working to stop Iran's nuclear program, "Christians are influencing Iran from the bottom up. We should support diplomatic talks at the appropriate level and back aggressive efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands. Christians have an additional mission of particular concern for the Iranian government's restrictions on freedom (including religious liberty)."

The editorial continues, saying: "The Christian influence is not with weapons, but with radio waves, the Internet, and relational outreach. Farsi-language Christian broadcasts and websites are blanketing Iran with the gospel message 24/7. (Secular counterparts are also broadcasting messages about political reform and democracy.) This kind of hearts-and-minds campaign is having significant results, notably among Iran's huge population of young adults unhappy with the current regime. According to Compass Direct News, house churches are growing rapidly. Sadly, one result of this Christian media strategy is a negative one: Iran is considering legalizing the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam for another religion." click here.

U.S. Evangelist, a Critic of Islam, Reaches Out to Sudan's President

By Stephanie McCrummen, The Washington Post, February 14, 2007

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Feb. 13 -- The first time that Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the Muslim president of Sudan, met Franklin Graham, the prominent evangelical Christian, the conversation came to a kind of standoff.

Graham, who has called Islam an "evil and wicked" religion, told Bashir in the 2003 meeting that he wanted to persuade him to become a Christian. Bashir, at the time fighting a civil war in the southern region of the country, told Graham that he wanted to make him a Muslim, Graham recalled. Continue.

Rep. Robin Hayes says we will win in Iraq by "spreading the message of Jesus Christ" there.

Submitted by LiberalNC to BlueNC blog, December 20, 2006 and brought to our attention by Pam's House Blend

In a speech to a local Rotary Club meeting in his home town of Concord, North Carolina, Representative Robin Hayes (a Republican who won reelection by a handful of votes) assured that the war in Iraq "is being won," then stated: “Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior.” Click here for more.

Religious right wields clout
Secular groups losing funding amid pressure

By Michael Kranish, Boston Globe, October 9, 2006 (PART 2 of the Globe's series: CHURCH MEETS STATE | EXPORTING FAITH)

Kranish reports on how the religious right has gained and exercises influence over distribution of US Agency for International Development (USAID) funds. Jewish organizations have been shut out of the process, according to the report, which quotes an official with the charity CARE who "said administration officials sometimes criticized the grants that went to Muslim and Jewish groups." A former USAID employee "said the office catered mostly to evangelical Christians. He calculated that of 167 organizations invited to discuss potential grants during a 15-month period ending in September 2004, only five were non-Christian." After he objected to this policy, he was fired.

Groups applying for funds for HIV-AIDS programs were required to sign an anti-prostitution pledge, and, Kranish reports, "American Jewish World Service, one of a handful of non-Christian faith-based groups to get US funds, received a single subgrant of $60,000 for AIDS work in Kenya, provided through the CARE program. The organization reluctantly agreed to sign the anti-prostitution pledge but quickly had second thoughts. The organization tries to stop the spread of AIDS by providing education opportunities for children of prostitutes, which can help mothers leave the brothels." Click here for the report.

Evangelicals and Foreign Policy

Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006

Religion has always been a major force in U.S. politics, policy, identity, and culture. Religion shapes the nation's character, helps form Americans' ideas about the world, and influences the ways Americans respond to events beyond their borders. Religion explains both Americans' sense of themselves as a chosen people and their belief that they have a duty to spread their values throughout the world. Of course, not all Americans believe such things -- and those who do often bitterly disagree over exactly what they mean. But enough believe them that the ideas exercise profound influence over the country's behavior abroad and at home.

In one sense, religion is so important to life in the United States that it disappears into the mix. Partisans on all sides of important questions regularly appeal to religious principles to support their views, and the country is so religiously diverse that support for almost any conceivable foreign policy can be found somewhere. Continue.

God's Country? Evangelicals and U.S. Foreign Policy

Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, September 26, 2006

In his recent article in Foreign Affairs, Walter Russell Mead argues that as U.S. evangelicals exert increasing political influence, they are becoming a powerful force in foreign affairs. In recent years, evangelicals have voted overwhelmingly Republican, helping to put conservatives at the helm of U.S. foreign policy, while focusing their energies on a handful of specific issues, including support for Israel, the promotion of religious freedom abroad and the alleviation of hunger in Africa. But as evangelicals mature politically, they are showing interest in a broader array of foreign policy issues, including some, such as global warming, traditionally seen as liberal.

The Pew Forum invited a group of distinguished journalists to hear Mead discuss his article and asked Leon Fuerth, of George Washington University, and Richard Land, of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, to respond to it.

Speaker: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations. Respondents: Leon Fuerth, Research Professor of International Affairs, Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University; Richard Land, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Continue.

Christian conservatives take the culture wars overseas to foreign courts

By Scott Michels, US News & World Report, June 14, 2006

According to the report, religious right legal groups are involving themselves in foreign cases -- in part to promote their policies, but also to shape laws that they fear may someday be ruling in US courts. The religious right frequently complains about the use of "foreign" law by our courts. Click here.

Analysis: Evangelicals Fret Over Bush's Foreign Policy

All Things Considered, National Public Radio, April 2, 2006

Evangelical Christians reconsider the Bush foreign policy in the wake of Afghanistan's death penalty trial of a Christian convert. Interviewees Dr. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Reverend Richard Sizik, of the National Association of Evangelicals, said the failure of the Bush administration to bring Afghanistan a democratic system that allows individuals freedom to choose their religion bodes ill for future evangelical support of the administration. Click here for the NPR page, which contains a link to the audio report.

Evangelicals Reconsider Bush's Drive In Mideast
Case of Christian In Afghanistan Alarms Activists

By Ori Nir, Forward via Common Ground Common Sense, March 31, 2006

Religious right leaders are letting it be known that they are reconsidering supporting the Bush policy of "democratizing" Muslim countires. The near conviction of an Afghan convert to Christianity has prompted complaints about elections that don't produce religious freedom or protect religious minorities.Click here for the report

Evangelized foreign policy?

By Howard LaFranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, March 2, 2006

"When President Bush recently used a public forum to announce his support for a more robust international intervention in Sudan's Darfur region - catching even some of his senior aides off guard - it was yet another milestone for the rising interest of Christian evangelicals in US foreign policy." Click here to read the report.

Religious right shares its homophobia in Poland

United States Exports Hate to Poland

Libby Post, The New York Blade, May 25, 2007

No longer content with the obscene political and monetary profits they realize in the United States, the radical Christian right is now exporting its number one product "homophobia"to Europe.

A few thousand zealots from the United States and other countries converged on Warsaw, Poland’s Palace of Culture and Science in mid-May for the World Congress of Families, a gathering that focused on "natural families."

"Natural families"? Continue

Poland Investigates Tinky Winky For Homosexuality

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff , May 28, 2007

(Warsaw) The Polish government has reportedly begun an investigation to determine if Tinky Winky and other Teletubbies are promoting homosexuality to children.

The Reuters news service reported Monday that the government's watchdog for children's rights has asked a panel of psychologists to investigate the popular children's television series. Continue.

Media Generated “Teletubby” Scandal Used to Make Pro-Family Polish Government Look Ridiculous

By Peter J. Smith, LifeSiteNews, May 31, 2007

WARSAW, May 30, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tinky Winky the lavender alien puppet who minces about his way on the children’s BBC television programme “Teletubbies” with a lady’s handbag, has now minced his way into Poland as the center of a media-driven controversy designed to make the government’s campaign to protect children from homosexual propaganda look ridiculous.

The controversy began after media sources misrepresented remarks made by Ewa Sowinska, Poland’s Ombudsman for Children’s Rights in a May 28 interview from WPROST, a weekly opinion journal, regarding the “Teletubbies,” specifically Tinky Winky. Continue.

U.S. social conservatives take their message to Poland

David Crary, Associated Press, Advocate.com, May 10, 2007

Many prominent U.S. conservative groups are shifting their attention overseas this week, attending a conference in Poland that will decry Europe's liberal social policies and portray the host nation as a valiant holdout bucking those trends.

The World Congress of Families is expected to draw more than 2,500 people from dozens of countries to Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science from Friday through Sunday.

Cosponsors of the congress include the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the Heritage Foundation, and the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, which promotes the ''intelligent design'' concept of the universe's origins. The U.S. groups are allied in opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and other policies they blame for weakening traditional families in Western Europe.

The chief organizer is a Rockford, Ill.–based conservative think tank, the Howard Center. ''Europe is almost lost—to demographic winter and to the secularists,'' says a planning document for the congress. ''If Europe goes, much of the world will go with it. Almost alone, Poland has maintained strong faith and strong families.''

Polish president Lech Kaczynski, who will address the congress, heads a conservative government that has tangled frequently with European Union officials over such issues as gay rights and his nation's tough abortion laws. Last month, after Polish officials proposed firing teachers who "promote" homosexuality, the E.U. parliament asked its antiracism center to examine ''the emerging climate of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic intolerance in Poland.'' Continue.

US evangelicals aim to influence European law
In a German court battle, a home-schooled girl was taken from her parents and put in psychiatric ward.

By Mariah Blake | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2007

Erlangen, Germany - For the past two months, the Busekros family has been fighting a court battle to regain custody of their 15-year-old daughter, Melissa. German police took her from her home here, and placed her in a psychiatric ward. The reason: She was being home-schooled, which violates Germany's compulsory education law.

Melissa's plight has struck a chord with US evangelicals, who often see home-schooling as a way to instill Christian values. American evangelical groups have rushed to the family's aid, providing legal counsel and lobbying the German parliament.

Many American Christians have reached out to the Busekros family, who now have two wicker baskets stuffed with hundreds of letters from supporters. "It reminds us that we are not alone, that there are people standing behind us and giving us the strength to fight," says Melissa's mother, Gudrun.

The Busekros case is emblematic of the growing effort by US Christian legal organizations to take the "culture wars" overseas. Pushing back against a perceived assault on their values by an increasingly secular society, the groups are striving to influence European law on issues ranging from home schooling to stem-cell research to gay marriage. Continue.

US Tycoon to Build Religious Broadcasting Empire in Rwanda

Bartholomew's notes on religion, February 11, 2007

From the Kigali [Rwanda] New Times:

President Paul Kagame yesterday held talks with the founder of Family Christian Network (FCN) Decarol Williamson, who promised to build a US$20m Television and radio network in Rwanda. Continue.

Rep. Robin Hayes says we will win in Iraq by "spreading the message of Jesus Christ" there.

Submitted by LiberalNC to BlueNC blog, December 20, 2006 and brought to our attention by Pam's House Blend

In a speech to a local Rotary Club meeting in his home town of Concord, North Carolina, Representative Robin Hayes (a Republican who won reelection by a handful of votes) assured that the war in Iraq "is being won," then stated: “Stability in Iraq ultimately depends on spreading the message of Jesus Christ, the message of peace on earth, good will towards men. Everything depends on everyone learning about the birth of the Savior.” Click here for more.

SECTION: Christian Zionists

Fundamentalist Christians' support of Israel threatens to blunt Jewish opposition to the religious right's agenda. Click here, please.

SECTION: Imperiling lives overseas by limiting access to contraceptives

The Christian right has succeeded in getting reserved for "abstinence only" programs a significant part of U.S. foreign aid funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and family planning. Click here.

Blackwater: fundamentalist-led mercenary army

Journalist Scahill Charts the Rise of Blackwater USA

Terry Gross interview with Jeremy Scahill, National Public Radio, Fresh Air from WHYY, March 19, 2007

Blackwater USA is a secretive private army based in North Carolina with a sole owner: Erik Prince, a right-wing Christian multimillionaire. Jeremy Scahill talks about his book Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Click here for the link to the recorded program.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, March 20th, 2007

AMY GOODMAN: Four years ago today, the US invasion of Iraq was in its opening hours. Hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries later, another date marked later this month has taken on nearly as much significance. It was March 31, 2004. Four employees of the private US security firm Blackwater USA were ambushed as they drive through the center of Fallujah. In images broadcast around the world, their burnt corpses were dragged through the streets. Two of them were strung up from a bridge. Continue

Bush's Shadow Army
Jeremy Scahill reports on the Bush Administration's growing dependence on private security forces such as Blackwater USA and efforts in Congress to rein them in.

Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, March 15, 2007 (This article is adapted from Scahill's new book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army)

On September 10, 2001, before most Americans had heard of Al Qaeda or imagined the possibility of a "war on terror," Donald Rumsfeld stepped to the podium at the Pentagon to deliver one of his first major addresses as Defense Secretary under President George W. Bush. Standing before the former corporate executives he had tapped as his top deputies overseeing the high-stakes business of military contracting--many of them from firms like Enron, General Dynamics and Aerospace Corporation--Rumsfeld issued a declaration of war. Continue

Boston Globe series on religious right influence on Bush foreign policy

Bush brings faith to foreign aid
As funding rises, Christian groups deliver help -- with a message

Farah Stockman, Michael Kranish, and Peter S. Canellos, The Boston Globe, October 8, 2006

LAKARTINYA, Kenya -- The herders of this remote mountain village know little about America, but have learned from those who run a US-funded aid program about the American God.

A Christian God.

The US government has given $10.9 million to Food for the Hungry, a faith-based development organization, to reach deep into the arid mountains of northern Kenya to provide training in hygiene, childhood illnesses, and clean water. The group has brought all that, and something else that increasingly accompanies US-funded aid programs: regular church service and prayer.

President Bush has almost doubled the percentage of US foreign-aid dollars going to faith-based groups such as Food for the Hungry, according to a Globe survey of government data. And in seeking to help such groups obtain more contracts, Bush has systematically eliminated or weakened rules designed to enforce the separation of church and state. Continue

A US boost to Graham's quest for converts

By Peter S. Canellos and Kevin Baron, Boston Globe, October 8, 2006

LUBANGO, Angola -- In this dusty city in the mountains, people remember the sparkling new paint job on their soccer stadium and the American preacher who turned it into a grand stage, bringing a 1,400-voice choir and even the provincial governor for a three-day festival before 47,000 people.

The Rev. Franklin Graham came to this remote African city in triumph, to dedicate a $5 million medical center, which he is building with private donations and US government funds.

He stayed a week and led 13,496 souls -- including about 6,000 children -- to Jesus...

Competition between Catholics and evangelicals is evident at the medical center. No Catholic chaplains will be allowed, said Minne Prins, the Dutch-born country director of North Carolina-based Samaritan's Purse, Graham's development group. The staff and clergy will be evangelicals. Click here.

Religious right wields clout
Secular groups losing funding amid pressure

Michael Kranish, The Boston Globe, October 9, 2006

For six decades, CARE has been a vital ally to the US government. It supplied the famed CARE packages to Europe's starving masses after World War II, and its work with the poor has been celebrated by US presidents. So the group was thrilled when it received a major contract from the Bush administration to fight AIDS in Africa and Asia.

But this time, instead of accolades came attacks. Religious conservatives contended that the $50 million contract, under which CARE was to distribute money to both secular and faith-based groups, was being guided by an organization out of touch with religious values.

Senator Rick Santorum , a Pennsylvania Republican, charged last year that CARE was ``anti-American" and ``promoted a pro-prostitution agenda." Focus on the Family, the religious group headed by James Dobson , said the agency that delivered the contract, the US Agency for International Development, was a ``liberal cancer." Continue

Together, but worlds apart
Christian aid groups raise suspicion in strongholds of Islam

Susan Milligan, The Boston Globe, October 10, 2006

SAHIWAL, Pakistan -- The X-ray machine at the Christian Hospital here is emblazoned with a USAID sticker to promote the US government's donation of top-of-the-line medical equipment. So is the blood bank refrigerator, the auditorium for medical lectures, and the radiology computer -- all sparkling new messages of help for the people of Pakistan, a crucial ally in the war on terrorism.

With a cleanliness and order that are in stark contrast to the crowded and filthy municipal hospital across town, the Christian Hospital, run by the Christian group World Witness with US government assistance, seems an easy choice for the nearly all-Muslim community it offers to serve. The public hospital is understaffed and underequipped, with patients slumped in dirty hallways and anxious parents holding crying, sickly babies awaiting a doctor's attention.

But like many Christian facilities in this Muslim nation, the Christian Hospital is an entity apart. It cares for 14,000 to 15,000 patients a year, compared with 1 million at the municipal hospital, and the neediest patients say they can't afford the few dollars for admission and a few blood tests. Continue

For those excluded, loan program is no success

By Farah Stockman, Boston Globe, October 10, 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya -- There are two veteran tailors huddled over the sewing machines in Reams Uniform Suppliers, a small shop tucked into the heart of this humid port city: Vincent, a Christian, who has worked there for 10 years, and Mohammad, a Muslim, who has worked there for eight.

Vincent plans to start his own tailoring business using a loan from a local lending group funded by Partners Worldwide, a Michigan-based Christian group. But Mohammad has no chance of getting that loan. He, like the vast majority of people living on Kenya's coast, is Muslim.

Partners Worldwide has been hailed by the White House as a model for international assistance. The administration has given $700,000 in taxpayer dollars to Partners to help cover the cost of staff in Kenya and two other countries and to help pay for mentoring and training programs for businesses receiving loans, though not the loans themselves. Continue.

Healing the body to reach the soul
Evangelicals add converts through medical trips

Rick Klein, The Boston Globe, October 11, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Dr. David Dageforde's life changed in a makeshift medical clinic in remote Ethiopia as he stared into the yellow, sunken eyes of a man with advanced liver disease. The man's family had carried him three hours on a stretcher fashioned from tree limbs and a blanket. Dageforde's years in a lucrative cardiologist practice in Louisville had taught him that this man would die, 11 hours from the nearest hospital.

Amid the grieving family, a missionary began praying, talking of eternal life.

``Seeing their eyes, their faces, their look and understanding" revealed the awesome power of connecting healthcare with spirituality, Dageforde said.

It's a revelation that hundreds of thousands of other evangelical Christians have experienced, and it is changing America's foreign policy. Pressure from medical missionaries helped focus the Bush administration on AIDS in Africa and on genocide in Sudan. It is also one of the forces behind President Bush's faith-based initiative -- his effort to give religiously inspired groups more federal funds to provide services such as healthcare, education, and food to people in the Third World. Continue

A piece of Hollywood is converted into a call to Christianity

By Rick Klein, Boston Globe, October 11, 2006

It started as a box-office bust, a true-to-the-Gospel account of the life of Jesus Christ that earned just $4 million when it was distributed by Warner Bros. under the title ``Jesus" in 1979 -- less than the film's $6 million cost.

But "The Jesus Film" has enjoyed unparalleled success in the years since. Propelled by missionaries who have made it a central part of their conversion efforts, the film has become the most-watched movie of all time, shown in 235 countries, translated into nearly 950 languages, and viewed by a worldwide audience of perhaps 3 billion. "Jesus" has motivated about 200 million conversions to Christianity, according to the Jesus Film Project, the $34 million-a-year division of Campus Crusade for Christ that's dedicated to spreading the film's reach. The claim, which can't be independently verified, reflects the seeming ubiquitousness of the film among Christian missionaries. Continue.

Paul Bonicelli at the US Agency for International Development

Paul Bonicelli/USAID: The rest of the story

Bill Berkowitz, Media Transparency, January 6, 2006

A number of high-powered Christian evangelical organizations have set up shop in Africa, aiming to transform the continent one small country at a time. USAID's Paul Bonicelli may help fast track these projects Click here to read about Paul Bonicelli's work.

Bush's Newest Crusader

By William Fisher, Tom Paine.common sense December 1, 2005

President Bush has nominated the dean of academic affairs at Partick Henry College, Paul Bonicelli, to be the Deputy Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. Patrick Henry College trains home-schooled Christian fundamentalists for leadership careers, especially in government. At USAID, a major source of US overseas economic aid, Bonicelli will oversee democracy and governance programs. Click here to read the report.

See also: Report on Patrick Henry College; USAID news release on Bonicelli's appointment.

Missionaries

The Evangelighouls - How The Christian Right Exploits War's Youngest Victims
Campus Crusade for Christ letter reveals evangelical "opportunity" created by Iraq carnage

by R.J. Eskow, blogging on Huffington Post, June 3, 2006

Blogger Eskow discovered a fundraising letter from Campus Crusade for Christ seeking for donations to exploit the conversion opportunities created by the bloody carnage created by the US occupation of Iraq.

Listen to their latest fundraising letter (from Vice President Steve Sellars), which begins "Dear friend in Christ":
"Evan as Iraq struggles to stabilize, you can touch the very heart of Iraq by reaching its children for Christ. "This opportunity has been years in the making, and now is the time to act. ... Campus Crusade for Christ staff teams in Iraq have been working since the American-led liberation, reaching people there with the Gospel. They have seen a tremendous response to the Good News, but recognize the time to so boldly reach out may be short."
Translation: We can benefit from their misery, which has been "years in the making," but only while we're the undisputed rulers there. An autonomous Iraqi nation wouldn't let us proselytize the way its current American overlords are doing.
They seem to have studied Gingrich on political language, too. The phrases "opportunity," "years in the making," and "American-led liberation" are all designed as subtle brainwashing for the letter's well-intended Christian readership. They're all words with positive charge, applied to a war that's now wildly unpopular even among evangelicals. It's a way to use a reader's Christian faith as a tool to persuade them that our GOP leadership was right to attack Iraq, and is doing the right thing by remaining there.

Click here to read Eskow's posting.

The Call

By Daniel Bergner, January 29, 2005

This feature about US evangelical missionaries in Africa considers their preoccupation with converting Africans and their influence on the Bush administration's foreign policy. Click here to read the report.

FIRST-PERSON: Does Israel still matter?

By Paige Patterson, Baptist Press News, January 11, 2006

This opinion article illustrates a frequent foreign policy focus of the religious right: converting "the natives" -- in this case Middle Eastern Jews and Muslims -- to Christianity. Click here to read the article.

Rankin to new missionaries: God wants people 'to be set free'

By Michael Chute, Baptist Press, November 22, 2005

This lengthy report on a missionary graduation quotes Jerry Rankin, president of the mission board linked to the Southern Baptist Convention noting that the accustomed dangers missionaries faced have been augmented. "No longer [are they at risk] simply because of their Christian witness, but because they are Americans in a world that is hostile to freedom-loving democracies."

Rankin also said that some of the graduates were "going to places we can't even mention publicly...[to] restricted nations. Last frontier people groups. People that have never had access to the Gospel before. They're going all across Africa and Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Asia to declare that Jesus can set them free." Click here to read the report.

Exploiting access to Muslim societies

Pastors, Lay Church Leaders, Mission and Relief Workers Urged to Attend Complementary Luncheons on North Africa Crisis

News Release, June 17, 2006, Contact: Tanie Guy of the National Clergy Council, 304-886-5409

LANCASTER, Penn.; PONTIAC, Mich.; COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- Recent reports on continuing human rights abuses in detention camps in Algeria are raising renewed concerns about the Western Sahara. A delegation of former refugees from the Western Sahara will this week visit Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Pontiac, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio, to meet with Christian leaders. They are seeking the help of churches in reuniting families torn apart over a 30-year period by an attempted Marxist take-over of this part of North Africa.

"As Christians, we may have profound differences with our Muslim neighbors in Morocco, but we have found common ground helping these gentle and wonderful people," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. "In Bible times Jews had serious religious differences with the Samaritans, but Jesus used a Samaritan to show how we are to treat people in need. This noble mission has opened doors of friendship and dialogue no one thought possible." Continue

'Good news' from northern Iraq

By Julia Duin, The Washington Times, May 23, 2006

Retired Iraqi Gen. Georges Sada, who now works as a Christian evangelist, says Kurds in northern Iraq are converting to Christianity "by the hundreds" in northern Iraq and the government in the city of Irbil allows evangelical missionaries to work among the people. Read the article

Christian Rock for Muslims

By Samuel Loewenberg, New York Times, May 10, 2005

MARRAKESH, Morocco, May 9 - In a sprawling open space alongside the Royal Palace here last Saturday night, Baimik Youness and his friend Salahe Boudde were jumping with excitement, about to see their first American rock concert. The Moroccan students had never heard of the band, Rock 'n' Roll Worship Circus. Nor had they realized that the three-day concert they were attending was a Christian rock festival. Click here to read the report

Arabic Christian channel a hit?

By Julia Duin, The Washington Times November 26, 2005

The Southern California-based channel Alkarma, whose name means "the vineyard" in Arabic, premiered Oct. 17. It is the brainchild of Samuel Estefanos, an Egyptian-born businessman. Click here to read the report.

TOPIC: Imperiling lives overseas by limiting access to contraceptives

Christian fundamentalists within the Bush administration are burdening US foreign aid with measures to deny recipients life-saving condoms and other means of reproductive health. Click here

Additional foreign policy topics

The 'American Inquisition'

Opinion article by James Reston Jr., USA Today, April 17, 2006

"Through the mist of time, the Spanish Inquisition has come down to us as one of the most barbarous periods in all of history. Its viciousness peaked in the late 15th century, during the reign of the messianic "Catholic kings," Ferdinand and Isabella.

"Paranoia gripped Spanish society as the Inquisition coincided with a Christian war against the Muslims of southern Spain. Clandestine trials, secret prisons, rampant eavesdropping, torture, desecration of Islam's holy books, and gruesome public executions created an atmosphere of pervasive terror. Suspects were assumed to be guilty, with no recourse to a defense, to a jury, or to a legitimate court...

"It is not surprising that a leader, who believes that his Christian God chose him to be president at this moment in history and that his Almighty speaks directly to him, should preside over this American Inquisition. Bush's messianic bent came to light vividly in June 2003, when he announced that his God had inspired him to go fight those terrorists and to end the tyranny in Iraq. What, one wonders, is his God telling him now about the chaos?" Read the op-ed

Christmas Battle Of Global Import Erupts in Capital

By Meghan Clyne, The New York Sun, December 14, 2005

"Washington - As the hype over secularists' "War Against Christmas" reaches fever pitch, a Christmas battle of sorts will be fought today on Capitol Hill between Senators Santorum and Kennedy over the holiday's meaning. The Pennsylvania Republican will frame Christmas in terms of worldwide religious freedom, part of a 'Christmas Under Siege Around the World' conference highlighting Christian persecution in oppressive regimes. The Massachusetts Democrat, meanwhile, will headline an event defining 'the true meaning of Christmas' as the need to raise the federal minimum wage." Click here to read the report.

Conservative Christians Biggest Backers of Iraq War

By Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, via Common Dreams, October 10, 2002.

A pre-invasion poll by the Christian Zionist organization Stand For Israel, found support for a US invasion of Iraq running at 69% of "conservative" Christians, compared to 54% of the general population. The poll (and the report) is primarily concerned with right-wing Christian fundamentalist support of Israel. Click here to read the report.

Curbing Big Brother
Christians urge Ashcroft to respect freedom in surveillance law.

By Tony Carnes, Christianity Today, September 2003

In 2003, some religious right groups joined defenders of the Bill of Rights in opposing harsh measures in the revision to the "Patriot Act" that was then underway. The groups worried that their overseas missionaries would be subject ot similar harsh treatment. Click here to read the report